Man and Wife HTML version
BUT two persons were now left in the summer-house--Arnold Brinkworth and Sir Patrick
"Mr. Brinkworth," said the old gentleman, "I have had no opportunity of speaking to you
before this; and (as I hear that you are to leave us, to-day) I may find no opportunity at a
later time. I want to introduce myself. Your father was one of my dearest friends--let me
make a friend of your father's son."
He held out his hands, and mentioned his name.
Arnold recognized it directly. "Oh, Sir Patrick!" he said, warmly, "if my poor father had
only taken your advice--"
"He would have thought twice before he gambled away his fortune on the turf; and he
might have been alive here among us, instead of dying an exile in a foreign land," said Sir
Patrick, finishing the sentence which the other had begun. "No more of that! Let's talk of
something else. Lady Lundie wrote to me about you the other day. She told me your aunt
was dead, and had left you heir to her property in Scotland. Is that true?--It is?--I
congratulate you with all my heart. Why are you visiting here, instead of looking after
your house and lands? Oh! it's only three-and-twenty miles from this; and you're going to
look after it to-day, by the next train? Quite right. And--what? what?--coming back again
the day after to-morrow? Why should you come back? Some special attraction here, I
suppose? I hope it's the right sort of attraction. You're very young--you're exposed to all
sorts of temptations. Have you got a solid foundation of good sense at the bottom of you?
It is not inherited from your poor father, if you have. You must have been a mere boy
when he ruined his children's prospects. How have you lived from that time to this? What
were you doing when your aunt's will made an idle man of you for life?"
The question was a searching one. Arnold answered it, without the slightest hesitation;
speaking with an unaffected modesty and simplicity which at once won Sir Patrick's
"I was a boy at Eton, Sir," he said, "when my father's losses ruined him. I had to leave
school, and get my own living; and I have got it, in a roughish way, from that time to this.
In plain English, I have followed the sea--in the merchant-service."
"In plainer English still, you met adversity like a brave lad, and you have fairly earned
the good luck that has fallen to you," rejoined Sir Patrick. "Give me your hand--I have
taken a liking to you. You're not like the other young fellows of the present time. I shall
call you 'Arnold.' You mus'n't return the compliment and call me 'Patrick,' mind--I'm too
old to be treated in that way. Well, and how do you get on here? What sort of a woman is
my sister-in-law? and what sort of a house is this?"
Arnold burst out laughing.
"Those are extraordinary questions for you to put to me," he said. "You talk, Sir, as if you
were a stranger here!"
Sir Patrick touched a spring in the knob of his ivory cane. A little gold lid flew up, and
disclosed the snuff-box hidden inside. He took a pinch, and chuckled satirically over